The Biden administration on Thursday declared Monkeypox a “public health emergency.” But while the disease is spreading, officials confirm it is primarily targeting sexually active homosexual men and those in close physical contact with them.
The declaration provides more money and mitigation efforts to respond to the virus but questions are growing. Some are asking if it should now be labeled an STD, or Sexually Transmitted Disease. Cities with significant male homosexual populations have for weeks been conducting outreaches in an effort to stem the spread. San Francisco has run out of vaccines.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra issued the directive, telling reporters that it allows for faster distribution of the so-called monkeypox vaccine. Becerra was joined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf on the call.
“I will be declaring a public health emergency on monkeypox. … We’re [taking] our response to the next level,” Becerra said, stating that Americans should take “monkeypox seriously.”
Walensky said the public health declaration will provide more “access to resources” and will “enable personnel to be deployed to the outbreak” in some localities. The emergency will also “further raise awareness” and encourage testing for it.
In the United States, there are “1.6 to 1.7 million” people, primarily homosexual men, who are at the “highest risk” of contracting monkeypox, according to the CDC director. She reiterated that homosexual men who are HIV-positive, appear to have an even higher chance.
Scientists believe the disease was originally transmitted to humans from close, possibly sexual, contact with monkeys.
More than 6,600 monkeypox infections have been reported across the United States, according to the CDC’s data, although the data show that no deaths have been reported so far. Only a handful of deaths from the virus have been reported outside the United States.
San Francisco over the weekend went ahead with what was described by organizers as a gay, leather, kink festival. Health officials, contrary to CDC guidance, downplayed the spread in the gay community saying people should not be “stigmatized” by the disease.